How should startups look to sell to CIOs?

25.1k views79 Upvotes42 Comments

CTO in Software, 11 - 50 employees
First and foremost, really work on your messaging and positioning. It’s easy to get enamored with the technology how instead of the strategic why - why is this important to them and why should they listen to you. If you can’t articulate that in a couple of minutes, you don’t want to go talk to a CIO.Once you have that, it’s about finding the right warm introductions, or reaching out to meet if you’ll be at the same conference/event and just having a conversation. Hard selling doesn’t work. Find out what they are working on, what their priorities are, and then if applicable work it in. Take a trusted advisor approach instead of a cold email or call, which may work sometimes but certainly doesn’t scale.
13 1 Reply
Principal | CMTO, Ekspansiv in Services (non-Government), 2 - 10 employees

Ditto on what Mike says. Be cautious on promises of delivery. As a startup, a CIO will know there are going to be issues. Be clear on your expected outcomes, offering a beta for free is nice, but it's not free. It carries time and people costs in the organization doing the beta as well as risks.

CIO in Consumer Goods, 11 - 50 employees
I was tempted, and I finally accepted myncurrent position as CIO last year, yes amazing April 2020.
I came from a corpo with morw than 35k employees, 7B earnings... Moving to a startup 1 year old? And... At that time I was 59?
There's always a dream, a view of a new path to creat, a way to feel free in a gfewn field where you can build your own world.
There's a land of opportunities, my best advise JUMP... It's amazing!
Senior Information Security Manager in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees
Spend time crafting the presentation to the specific CIO.

Don’t used a canned PowerPoint.

Know what their pain points are and show how the product can fix that.

And don’t waste time mentioning Gartner and their reports.
Director in Manufacturing, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Have some real case studies of implementation from time to purchase until real value is provided. So many times we here installed and are up and running in 2 months…. Technically true but then spend a year deployment to 200 sites and 100k people and really didn’t get value for 6-9 months…. And more months tuning…. Be realistic on timing and results
Director of Technology Strategy in Services (non-Government), 2 - 10 employees
I recently lost a significant chunk of a day while exploring new tools trying to find out how they work to understand if they would deliver on the problem I was trying to solve for one of my clients.

Their websites were beautifully laid out, there was a lot of content available, the what it did was clear.

But missing from all 6 of the ones I was looking at was a simple architecture diagram that would tell me how the tool worked in an offline mode.

This was necessary because the client has a product that is often run by their customers in an airgapped environment.

I get that SaaS is not aimed at the tech department, but in a large enough company they will still be involved in the sign off process and the CIO will have an part to play in that process.

The CIO may not need to know how your underlying tech works, but someone who works for them will.
CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Agree with Mike. I don't think the messaging is any different than a non-startup. What you are trying to sell, what's in it for the client and being able to prove the concept or vision are all the keys to a potentially rewarding sales cycle.
Chief Information Officer in Manufacturing, 10,001+ employees
In today's business market whether a start-up or an existing business. The draw should be the same. Culture, "Stability", Benefits, Is the position on the board or executive cabinet, compensation, etc. As the CIO, you should be the strategic arm of the organization. If you aren't, that's something to consider.
CIO / Managing Partner in Manufacturing, 2 - 10 employees
Agree to all the other Comments it should be no different. Unfortunately many startups struggle to define their business proposition, they have a great idea and have developed really cool technology, but have not spent enough time in defining the bottom line impacts for a company.
Director of Engineering in Software, 201 - 500 employees
We should meet a CIO,respecting his time, present our product, proving it has promising aims which can bring about many changes to technology.
CIO in Healthcare and Biotech, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Do your research.  Please do not bombard me with requests to connect when a quick tour of a website will tell you you are barking up the wrong tree.  90% of the email I get from outside the organization goes straight to the trash bin.

Content you might like

Yes, we’re making good progress34%

Not yet, but we have some planned62%

No, and we have no plans to4%



CEO in Services (non-Government), Self-employed
Using AI tools 2-3 a week. Use cases: 
-summaries of content 
-slide outlines
-Beauti.Ai for slide preparation
-Chat GPT 4

1.5k views1 Comment

Chief Data Officer in Travel and Hospitality, Self-employed
Data & Analytics
Read More Comments
1.4k views2 Comments